District 201 to end year in black; state owes district nearly $2 million

News-DemocratMay 20, 2013 

Belleville School District 201 is expecting to end the current fiscal year in the black despite the fact the state owes the district close to $2 million.

Assistant Superintendent Brian Mentzer provided school board members an update of the district's finances during its regular board meeting Monday night. Mentzer said the district is "currently still in the black in the (education) fund as of this month."

He said the district's expenses are estimated to be 3 to 4 percent below budget for fiscal year 2013, and the State of Illinois still owes the district $695,000 for the current fiscal year. In addition, Mentzer said the district is owed $490,000 in general state aid for the previous fiscal year and $1 million in other mandated payments for transportation, special education and other areas.

"That's $2 million in outstanding balances if we don't get those," he said.

Mentzer also updated the board on projections for fiscal year 2014. He said it's still unclear at what percentage the state will fund general state aid. For the last two years, the state has prorated the amount of money each district is supposed to receive per student. Last year, the schools received 5 percent less than the mandated formula requires. This year, it's 11 percent less.

The district's healthcare costs will jump 3.4 percent next year, which amounts to approximately $153,000 based on the district's current staffing levels, according to Mentzer. He noted the cost of healthcare will increase for both the district and its employees.

He estimated the district will receive $100,000 less in federal dollars as a result of the sequestration. "The uncertainty of revenue is something we continue to struggle with," he said.

In an effort to save the district money and improve efficiency, the school board approved a five-year contract with Watts Copy Systems Inc. in Belleville. Watts was selected out of six proposals the district received, Mentzer said. He estimated the contract will save the district approximately $132,000 over the next five years.

In other business, the school board hired two new staff members and recalled a staff member, who was honorably dismissed as part of the reductions in force earlier this year. The new hires were Jared Hummer, a chemistry teacher at Belleville West, and Alex Schobert, an English teacher at Belleville West. The recalled staff member was Ryan Wiggs, a social studies teacher at Belleville East.

In all, Superintendent Jeff Dosier said the district will still have nine fewer staff members employed next school year. "We won't be filling those other positions until we know what our needs are," he said.

At the onset of Monday's board meeting, the board held a moment of silence in memory of District 201 staff member Kassy Jakob, 60, a special education teacher's aide for Belleville East and West, who died May 16 at her home in Albers. Jakob had worked for the district since 1987.

"She had a passion for helping kids," Dosier said. "She had a gift for working with kids with disabilities."

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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